December is my favorite time of the year. But not because of twinkling lights and piles of cookies and food and family. Nope, it’s my favorite time of year because I get to plan what I’m going to create and conquer over the next 12 months. It always feels like a clean slate, a fresh start, and the opportunity to add anything to my to-do list.
But choosing and accomplishing goals isn’t always easy, so today I’m sharing how I pick goals I’ll actually accomplish, create a plan that fits into my life, and make sure that my commitment and focus see me through to the end.
Get out your whiteboards, fill that coffee cup, and let’s get down to business!
How to set goals you’ll actually accomplish
What do you want to do this year? Where do you want to take your business? What do you want to do in your personal life? What do you want to be cheers-ing to 12 months from today?
Yep, you can pick anything your little heart desires.
It can be big or small, simple or a little crazy, but whatever you choose to do, you need to be specific. Not just, “I want to grow my blog traffic.” Not just, “I want to launch a product.” Not just, “I want to escape my day job.”
What do you want to accomplish and when do you want to accomplish it?
1000 pageviews/month by March. An e-course on calligraphy by June. Freelancing full-time by November (so you can take December off!).
Choose a specific thing and an approximate end date – this makes it much easier to create a concrete plan, which makes it more likely to happen.
Once you’ve got a specific goal, dig a little deeper. Why do you want that traffic? What are you going to do with it? How many students do you want in your course? How much revenue? How many clients will you work with and what sort of projects will you launch?
What is your overall intention with your goal? Life-wise, how does this goal contribute to how you want to feel, where you want to live, what you want to do in 5-10 years? Your goal can, of course, be little and pointless – I want to color my hair blue just because. Or it can be a grand life plan – I want to color my hair blue and smash the capitalist patriarchy. If it’s bigger and more impactful, make sure it fits with the overall direction of your life and business.
I advise a mix of both. :)
But how do I set a goal that I’ll REALLY be able to accomplish?
Here’s the thing, you can pick whatever goals you want, but some of them come with a price. Some of them require that you work REALLY FUCKING HARD to make them happen. Blue hair, not so much; leaving the day job, SO much work.
So it’s also a matter of do you really want it and how much are you willing to sacrifice to get it? Sometimes the answer to both of those questions needs to be A LOT.
THINGS TO CONSIDER . . .
What will accomplishing your goal compete with or take time away from in your life? Does it mean no more Sunday Funday? Does it mean swapping your morning run for blog post writing? Does it mean time away from your family? Is it worth the trade? Worth it enough that you’ll stick with it?
What do you need stuff-wise and knowledge-wise in order to accomplish your goal? If you want to live in Spain for a year, it may be a good idea to research jobs/housing or save a certain amount of money. This year’s goal might need to be one of those two things and next year’s goal can be Spain.
Or maybe you want to become a YouTube sensation, but you don’t know the first thing about making videos or lighting or editing and you don’t have a camera or software. Obviously those things will need to come before you start making weekly videos and getting a bajillion subscribers. If you’ve got time and money to do all of that in one year, then go for it; if not, maybe you start by becoming an editing pro.
What did you accomplish this past year? It’s fairly unlikely your goal nailing skills are going to drastically change year to year, so don’t go from mostly running once a week one year to hiking the tallest mountain in the world the next. Maybe that’s your 5-year goal instead.
And one more thing – keep your eyes on your own paper. Your goals should be for you, not doing the same or more or better than someone else you’ve been eying online. You don’t have to earn 6-figures or a million subscribers. Doubling whatever number I’m starting at has always been a good rule of thumb for me and something I’ve been able to accomplish and beat many times.
Systems for knocking out your goals
A goal without a plan is just a dream, right? So along with whatever goal you dream up, NOW is the time to make a plan for how you’ll make it happen.
To start, you need to decide how you like to visualize what needs to get done. For me, this is a three-pronged system . . .
First, I have a spreadsheet in Google Drive that displays the entire year. I can fill in my launches/registration periods, blog posts, emails, promo events and share the entire thing with my virtual assistant so she knows what’s coming up.
Planning for the entire year at once allows me to be prepared waaaay ahead of time instead of figuring things out a week in advance. I could have used a paper calendar or Google Calendar for this, but I like having the ability to see everything all at once instead of flipping through a month at a time and it allows me to create yearly sheets all in one doc so I can see my progress year to year.
Second, I have three calendar whiteboards (which are so attractively hung in my living room) so I can see everything I’m working on over the next 90 days and how it all connects together. (I put them up with Command picture hanging strips so I can take them down and switch them around.)
And third, I am one of those crazy people with five different color-coded calendars (and by crazy I mean totally on top of their shit) in Google. I have a calendar for my personal stuff, a calendar for work stuff, two calendars for Badass Babes stuff, and a calendar for client stuff. I like using Google because I can turn them on and off depending on what I’m focused on at the moment and their iPhone app is well designed too.
I use these Google calendars to plan the one to three most important things I need to accomplish each day like a top-level to-do list. If I need to break those down into smaller pieces or add a few extra tasks, I use the Any.do Chrome extension. Things that are done every week on the same day, like writing emails and blog posts, are scheduled as recurring events, so I end up on schedule.
Once you have your calendars in place, you need to make a rough plan. Like TODAY. Because you’re thinking about it today and you’re probably getting excited about it today. Take an hour (download those handy worksheets in the big green box) and make a plan for each goal you want to knock out. Then you’ll at least know where to start and how much you’re about to pile on your plate.
Breaking down big goals
First, take your big, overwhelming, omg-I-can’t-believe-I’m-going-to-actually-do-this goal and break it down into small steps. If my goal is to launch a course, then some of my steps would be:
- Choosing a topic
- Finding a membership / ecommerce platform
- Creating an email sequence for the launch
Then break each step into a set of tasks . . . To create an email sequence, the tasks would be:
- Plan the email sequence with dates and times
- Write the email sequence
- Send the emails to my assistant to be edited
- Schedule the email sequence in my email platform
Last, put all your steps in the order you’ll need to accomplish them. Before I schedule my email sequence, I need to create my sales page so I can add those links into the emails, so creating a sales page comes first.
Once you have your plan laid out, ADD IT TO YOUR CALENDAR. (Today. I’m serious. No-BS guide, remember?) A project management tool like Asana (what I use for working with my assistant) might work well to have your entire plan digitized in one spot with calendars and task lists and to-do lists. (And it’s free if you’re working solo.)
Finding time for all those tasks
Now, one of the questions I’m asked most often is – how do I find the time to do all of this??
Well, there isn’t any sort of trick to having the time to accomplish everything you want to do. It’s a matter of staying focused and committing to make the time. That’s right, you don’t find time or have time, you need to MAKE time.
Think of all the people who have knocked out seemingly crazy goals and didn’t let their circumstances stop them. (Go through this list and then tell me you don’t have time…)
Here are a few tips for making time:
- Stop saying yes to things you really don’t want to do or don’t have time to do. (No is a complete sentence / you don’t owe everyone a response or an explanation.)
- Cut out things that aren’t moving you in the direction of your goal or are just plain getting in the way. (You probably have to keep the kids and job for now, but everything else – outta here!)
- Make space for work and play so you can focus when it’s time to work – if you’re going to watch TV, then watch TV; if you’re going to Facebook, then Facebook; if you’re going to set aside time to work, then you need to be working.
- Hire out and automate as much as possible – tons of ways to automate your biz + blog here >>>
- Stop saying you’re too busy, too stressed, too tired. First, the things you say become your reality (if you always say you’re busy, then you will always FEEL busy), and second, if it’s a problem, then make a change.
- Plan everything in advance – you probably have an idea of what your year will look like and you now have an idea of what’s required to hit your goal so plan accordingly.
If you tend to be someone who craps out when you’re halfway there, now is also the time to find an accountability partner, sign up for a course, or join a community to help keep you on track. Set yourself up to win in advance!
And lastly, here are MY goals for this year
Last year, I launched and launched and launched. And so my goal this year is to not launch anything new at all. (We’ll see if I can actually stand by that – I have a tendency to go from 0 to 100 the second I have a new idea.) But, should I be able to stick to this, I would like to spend my year refining and expanding the programs I already have and helping my students (maybe that will be you!) grow and launch their own stuff. This means I want to sell out Badass Babes each time I run the course and bring in 20 new CPP Live students each month. Not a crazy goal, but definitely one that will continue to grow my business, help me connect with lots of new people, and still allow me a little room to breathe (or maybe travel :)